By Renee Aldrich
Pine Forest, our home mountain. It means so much to us. It's where Dan grew up and has been his axis his entire life. For me, I have been lucky enough to spend increments of time here over the last 13 years. I fell in love with the area the first time I visited, before Dan and I even became a couple. I feel so fortunate and happy to call it my home now too.
This summer we have spent more time in the Pine Forest Range than we have in the past 13 years. It has been wonderful. We've spent a lot of time in Chicken Creek and up near Bartlett peak. So over the Perseids weekend we decided to head in a different direction and went up to Rodeo Flat, an area high in the range and nestled up next to the newly designated Pine Forest Wilderness.
We packed light, as we were just taking one ATV. We brought our sleeping bags, pads, a ground tarp, headlamps, our backpacks because we were going to attempt to hike Duffer Peak (the Pine Forest's highest peak) on Sunday, about 2 gallons of water, cheese, meat and crackers and a couple of fleece jackets.
On our ride up to Rodeo Flat we took our time, stopping to check out the odd sculptures that grace several rocky outcrops on and near New York Peak. We took in the views overlooking the Black Rock Desert, the Black Rock Range, Pinto Mountain, Elephant Mountain, The Jackson Mountains and King Lear. Driving up to Rodeo Flat in the evening, the light turned golden and the Pine Forest Wilderness lit up like the desert jewel it is. With my love of rabbit brush and all the amazing light I couldn't stop taking pictures of the landscape.
It was a great spot to watch the annual Perseids meteor shower. The big, wide open skies were incredibly dark, making star gazing an intensely beautiful experience--even without the meteors. But when the meteors started we witnessed a wonderful starry sky show. We sat up and watched shooting stars for hours, but the moon eventually made it's way into the night sky and tempered the show. We eventually laid down and fell asleep, the next day was going to be a long one.
Something about sleeping outside makes me sleep in. I always want to get up early and enjoy the morning light, but for some reason it's really difficult for me to do so. On Sunday morning I slept in till 8:00 am. When I finally woke up, we got moving. We wanted to hike Duffer Peak and we knew it was going to be a steep, hot hike.
We followed an old jeep trail from Rodeo Flat up to where it ended and where we then dropped down into the north fork of Snow Creek. There is a horse trail there that runs down to the creek, but we missed it so we bushwhacked our way down. At the creek bottom we were able to find the trail, which led us right up to Bare Ass Pass, known on most maps as Bare Pass--not it's real name. Atop Bare Ass Pass we paused a few minutes for some handstand pics.
From Bare Ass Pass to the summit is a short, but steep climb, however it's a little unclear where the real high point is so we climbed up the humpback ridge and followed it along, stopping here and there to enjoy the views of the drainages spread out below us. We found and signed the register but it was so cool so trace the line of that summit ridge that can be seen for hundreds of miles.
At the top of Duffer peak we enjoyed the immense views of the Basin and Range region that surrounded us. There was a bit of haze so we didn't get to see as far off in the distance as usual, but it was still impressive.
By the time we headed down the mountain, it had become fairly late, so we pretty much boogied down and got back to the ranch just before nightfall. It was a wonderful weekend and a great way to enjoy the meteor shower. We hope you all were able to find a piece of dark sky to enjoy the shower in too!
This blog is dedicated to stories and ideas from our explorations. We hope you enjoy!
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